Ah, loft living – isn’t it wonderful? One of the most stylish facets of living in London or Paris, where every spare inch of a property is put to good use and lofts are as grand as the apartments on other floors. Even the suites under the eaves of palace hotels such as Le Meurice are now being marketed amongst their most prestige accommodations; cosy Autumn days tucked up in a beautiful bed, meals delivered via room service, a good book, scented candles burning, gorgeous views over the roof tops – the stuff of weekend dreams…
Helping to make these dreams come true is Benni Frowein, CEO of luxury bespoke wall covering and fabric company F. Schumacher EMEA. Based in London, his company supplies top designers and decorators operating on prestige projects, large and small, around the world including Firmdale Hotels where designer Kit Kemp has used Schumacher fabrics on the headboards and furnishings in her incredibly detailed schemes. Here Benni chats to us about his day, his brand, his inspirations…
C&B: “Hi Benni! You have the most fascinating life – firstly, how did you get involved with Schumacher?”
BF: “I love my job! I grew up in Germany but very soon started exploring the world; I worked almost a decade in strategy consulting before joining Schumacher in 2015. I always loved interior design – I can well remember, how I helped my mom on pelmet designs at the age of 5 – and was very happy when Schumacher approached me to help bring America’s oldest design brand into the 21st century…”
C&B: “What factor most influences your designs, who produces them, and how did you survive lockdown?“
BF: “We draw inspiration from literally everywhere… we do trend scouting, inspirational trips, and spend weeks in our archive, a treasure trove of designs dating back over 400 years. And then there is an unmeasurable and inimitable sense for Zeitgeist that you need to be successful as a brand. Our Chief Creative Office, Dara Caponigro, has that more than anyone else I know. We’re one of the few fabric and wallpaper houses left that have an inhouse design team; we tripled the size of the team over the last 5 years to remain the most relevant brand in our industry; we also launched our own magazine FREDERIC in which we show how to life beautifully and with joy. After dealing with the initial shock in 2020, almost everyone started renovating their homes across the world; and we haven’t had much time to breathe in the last year – on a personal note, I am happy that my family got safe through all of this, and I have a very positive outlook into 2022!”
C&B: “We see pattern being used all over the place at the moment; is this a big feature in your own designs? If so, how are your clients using it?”
BF: “Pattern has always been very important in decorating; we’re very happy to see also that the younger generations are starting to fall in love with real craftmanship, traditional printing techniques, and bold patterns too. We are literally experiencing a renaissance of creative decorating which seems very exciting to us…”
C&B: “Who are your biggest customers and where are your wall coverings used the most?”
BF: “We predominantly work with interior designers across the U.S., the UK and Europe for both, commercial and residential spaces. One example is the newly renovated Marbella Club that is one of Spain’s most prestigious and glamourous hotels. We’re very privileged to be working with almost all named interior designers e.g., Veere Grenney, Rita Konig, Jonathan Adler, Susie Atkinson to name a few. We also love all complementary brands that share similar values of how to live beautifully.. to name some examples, we are working closely with Matouk (bedding), Backdrop (paint), Molly Mahon (block printing), and A Rum Fellow (textiles). If City & Beach readers are interested in how our products are used, they can search for #schustagram on Instagram and they’ll find thousands of ‘Schu-rooms’; we’re seeing more and more homeowners want to be able to engage with our brand directly – that’s why we have launched http://www.fschumacher.co.uk – the industry’s most inspirational and easy-to-use website…for everyone!”
7 TASTEMAKER SECRETS: BENNI FROWEIN, CEO SCHUMACHER
London is simply a beautiful place… I mean it must be if the city even lacquers its street lanterns! I can breathe and find inspiration while feeling connected to an interesting and cosmopolitan crowd; I love that about London…”BENNI FROWEIN, CEO, SCHUMACHER
.1. .Q. Your favourite London restaurant? .A. ’CASA CRUZ’ (above, left) is spectacular, I’d say!
.2. .Q. Bar? .A. Have you been to The Lanesborough (above, left) for a drink? I wish the century-old wood-panelled walls could talk! At Decorex this year, Sara Cosgrove designed the Champagne Bar and used exclusively Schumacher!
.3. .Q. Favourite cocktail? .A. 100% Pisco Sour (above, middle)
.4. .Q. Club? .A. Soho House remains a favourite of mine. It’s easy, buzzling, energetic and fun.
.5. .Q. Where next for business? .A. Paris (below, left) and New York
.6. .Q. Next vacation? .A. I love spending time in Mexico (below, right); I’ve always loved the culture, the people, and the incredible diversity.
.7. .Q. Who would you most like to invite to a dinner at home or in a restaurant, from the world of design? A: I wish I could be Owen Wilson in ‘Midnight in Paris’ (below, middle) meeting all the incredibly talented interior designers from the first half of the 20th century!